KeyNews Winter 2024

March 18, 2024

President’s Message

Dear Members,

At last fall’s Mid-Atlantic States Cemetery and Funeral Conference, Lee Longino, President of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) spoke to all attendees. I resonated with his his comments about their guiding principles: ICCFA strives to provide exceptional education, networking opportunities, and legislative guidance. If you go to our website, PCCFA bills itself as promoting advocacy, education, and preservation. When asked about his new position with the ICCFA, Longino said, “I am extremely passionate about our profession and am constantly seeking out ways to drive relevancy.” I see relevancy as perceived value. To me, relevancy is when a cemetery, crematory, or funeral home sees the value in being a part of PCCFA.

In January, I got a call from a member saying that their accountant was questioning the value in renewing their membership. While happy to send the caller our benefits of membership, it made me stop and wonder how we might have failed them that they didn’t believe strongly enough in our value that they had to reach out for help explaining it. In fairness, I have never seen anyone from their association attend our conferences so maybe they haven’t needed our education programs and networking opportunities. As a cemetery that has crematory on their sign, surely our work on the legislative bill lowering cremation temperatures should have shown them that we advocate for meaningful legislation relief.

During my term as your president, you will hear me address relevancy and value. To this end, I plan on sending out a survey in the coming weeks. Please take the time and respond so we can address your priorities as we revisit ours.

On another subject, last year members of the board at Bellefonte Union Cemetery bought a PCCFA membership as a way of honoring their president, James Baldwin. Doing a recent lookup on the internet about the cemetery, I found a television interview with Mr. Baldwin and other members of the cemetery board. One of the speakers shocked me with her reference to a TikTok video, @ladytaphos, on headstone restoration having over a million views. She went on to say she is pushing TikTok to attract young volunteers to come out and apply the skills in real life at their cemetery. Who knew there is even a group- #gravetok?

Thank you all,

Ernie Petersen, President